'It just doesn't make sense': B.C. friends react to charges against RCMP official
CTV News Vancouver
Published Monday, September 16, 2019 5:54PM PDT
As new details emerge about the bombshell arrest of a senior RCMP intelligence official, the friends he made while living in B.C. are struggling to make sense of the situation.
Cameron Jay Ortis, the director general of the RCMP's intelligence unit, is facing rarely used national security charges. He's accused of accessing classified information and possessing a device used for secret communications.
On Monday, RCMP Commission Brenda Lucki issued a statement in response to the allegations, which she said have "shaken many people throughout the RCMP."
"While these allegations, if proven true, are extremely unsettling, Canadians and our law enforcement partners can trust that our priority continues to be the integrity of the investigations and the safety and security of the public we serve," Lucki said.
The allegations have also rattled some of the people who have known 47-year-old Ortis for years outside the force.
Chris Parry told CTV News he only knows the accused as a dedicated public servant who chose to stay with the RCMP even though he could have pursued much higher pay in the private sector.
"He is smarter than anyone you will ever meet and was dedicated to doing good," Parry said. "It just doesn't make sense."
Ortis earned his PhD in political science at the University of British Columbia, and one of his old professors has also expressed shock at the allegations against him.
Brian L. Job, who supervised Ortis during his PhD studies and postdoctoral fellowship, said he has continued meeting the RCMP official for dinner or coffee about once a year since he graduated in 2007.
"Nothing in my experience with Cameron would lead me to suspect his alleged involvement in the activities for which he is charged. Indeed, the exact opposite is true," Job told CTV News last week.
Ortis is from Abbotsford, and his parents still live in the Fraser Valley. A woman who answered the door on Monday declined to comment on the allegations against him.
Ortis has worked with the RCMP since 2007, and previously held positions in operations research and national security criminal investigations, according to the force. He was arrested last Thursday.
Lucki noted Ortis, by virtue of his position, had access to information possessed by the Canadian intelligence community as well as intelligence from some of Canada's domestic and international allies.
"This level of access is appropriate given the positions he held," she said.
"This is an ongoing investigation and we are assessing the impacts of the alleged activities as information becomes available. We are aware of the potential risk to agency operations of our partners in Canada and abroad and we thank them for their continued collaboration. We assure you that mitigation strategies are being put in place as required."
The RCMP is expected to reveal more information about the allegations on Tuesday, and Ortis is scheduled to appear in court next on Friday.
With files from CTV News Vancouver's Nafeesa Karim